Purdue Pharma reached a nationwide agreement on Thursday over its role in the opioid crisis, with the Sackler family members who own the company boosting their cash contributions to $6 billion. la in a settlement that aims to avert a series of lawsuits facing the OxyContin maker.
Agreement after one resolved sooner was appealed by eight states and the District of Columbia. They agreed to re-sign after the Sacklers made more money and accepted other terms. In return, the family will be protected from civil lawsuits.
All in all, the plan could be worth more than $10 billion over time. It called on members of the Sackler family to relinquish control of the Stamford, Connecticut-based company so it could be turned into a new entity with the profits used to combat the crisis. The settlement will not protect family members from criminal charges, although there are no signs of that imminent.
The Sackler family members did not definitively apologize but issued a statement regretting the amount of OxyContin, the company’s signature painkiller, which users were told could be manipulated. to make fast highs. Purdue Pharma has promoted its use for a range of pain problems for which doctors previously avoided prescribing opioids.
“While the families have acted in all respects with the law, they sincerely regret that OxyContin, a prescription drug that continues to help people with chronic pain, has unexpectedly become part of this crisis. The opioid crisis has brought pain and loss to so many families and communities. ,” Statement from the Sackler family.
Under the settlement, victims must also have a forum in court, by videoconference scheduled for March 9, to address some of the Sacklers. That’s something they couldn’t do in public before.
The settlement is outlined in a report filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, New York, and must be approved by a judge. It has been brought to attorney generals from eight states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — and DC, who have previously opposed the thing, arguing that it does not hold responsibility. legitimacy for Sackler family members.
Some parents of children addicted to opioids report conflicting attitudes – happy that more money will be available to treat the addiction, but sad that the Sacklers will remain rich and shirk more responsibility.
Paige Niver of Connecticut, whose daughter became addicted after a bicycle accident when she was 14 and is still recovering about 13 years later, says she doesn’t want other families to suffer what she did.
“As a mother, I followed the doctor’s orders and I kept giving them to her. And when they started to have less of an effect, they said, ‘Oh, then you need to give her more.’ And that’s exactly what I did,” she said at a press conference Thursday with her state attorney general.
Niver said: “I never thought I would get any justice for it, so that money will benefit a lot – funding treatment and prevention as much as possible.
Ed Bisch, whose 18-year-old son died of a drug overdose 20 years ago, is happy that states have pushed Sackler family members to pay more. However, he still called the settlement “a horrible deal” because so many parents who bury their loved ones will see no money, while the Sacklers keep their wealth.
“Guess what? They still make trillions and billions of dollars,” says Bisch, of Westampton, New Jersey. “If there is no prison, where is the deterrent? We have lost two generations to their greed. “
Individual victims and their survivors must share a $750 million fund, a key provision not found in other opioid settlements. About 149,000 people have pre-claimed and may be eligible to receive shares from the fund.
That amount is unchanged under the new plan, but states will be able to create funds they can use to compensate victims beyond that, if they so choose.
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Other new provisions include an agreement from Sackler family members that they will not fight when organizations try to take their names off buildings funded by the family’s support. And additional company documents will be made public.
Much of the money went to state and local governments, Native American tribes, and some hospitals, with the requirement that the money be used to fight. an opioid crisis has been linked to more than 500,000 deaths in the US over the past two decades.
“We are pleased with the settlement reached in mediation whereby all additional settlement funds will be used for opioid addiction, emergency medicine, and victimization programs,” said Purdue Pharma. said in a statement released separately from the family. “With this mediation outcome, we continue to be on track to expedite the fast scheduled appeals process and we hope to make these resources available quickly.”
Kentucky and Oklahoma are not part of the deal because both have previously reached agreements with Purdue.
Purdue, an initiator of powerful versions of prescription pain relievers over time, is the best known of the many that have faced lawsuits over the crisis. It has twice pleaded guilty in connection with its business practices around OxyContin.
The latest announcement follows another landmark deal late last week, when drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three distributors complete a settlement that would send $26 billion over time to most states and local governments across the US
There are two key differences between the latest Purdue settlement and the previous one that occurred last year. The Sacklers’ cash contribution has raised at least $1.2 billion, and the state attorney general and the District of Columbia have now agreed.
Money will start flowing after Purdue, which will be renamed Knoa Pharma, goes bankrupt. It’s not clear when that will happen. The final payment under the agreement will not be made until 2039.
Last year, eight states and DC refused to renew, and most of them later appealed after the settlement was approved by a bankruptcy judge.
In December, a US district judge sided with nine supporters. The judge, Colleen McMahon, rejected the settlement finding that bankruptcy judges lacked the authority to provide legal protections to those who did not file for bankruptcy themselves when several parties disagreed.
Purdue appealed that decision, which, if upheld, would have upset a common method for reaching settlements in complex and far-reaching lawsuits.
The signed attorney general is leaving the main legal battle but is still free to write briefs to tell courts not to allow protections for people who don’t file for bankruptcy themselves.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has repeatedly said he feels a “special obligation to be aggressive” in the case because Purdue is headquartered in the state. He expressed disappointment on Thursday with the final settlement, though he said it was 40% more than the last.
“I want more than that. I still want more. But I took it as far as I could,” he said at a press conference. “If we continue, we will do it alone and that is unacceptable.”
The new settlement requires approval from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain. Appeals regarding previous versions of the plan can continue through the court system.
Associated Press writers Dave Collins and Susan Haigh of Connecticut contributed to this report.